UPDATED 8/3/2012 8 a.m. Editor’s Note: Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign briefly blocked access to her commercial on YouTube, but it is now available again.

It’s hard to imagine two commercials in two different major Hawaii campaigns looking and sounding more similar than these two.

The Pacific Resource Partnership, which has spent more than $1 million to promote rail and attack mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano this year, released a new spot Thursday that is eerily reminiscent of an ad produced for 2nd Congressional District hopeful Tulsi Gabbard last month.

Both commercials are titled “Pay-to-Play.” Both commercials feature a faceless man in a dark suit counting off hundred-dollar bills. Both commercials start with the same exact shot of five red casino dice rolling from left to right — though one is over an image of the U.S. Capitol and one is over an image of Honolulu Hale.

If they’re not created by the same minds, then the new one is some sort of homage to the old one. PRP’s commercial even seems to make a verbal reference to Gabbard’s spot.

So how did the exact same imagery find its way into two different ads? No one will say.

Hers begins:

It’s a game to them. Pay-to-play. Self-serving politicians take thousands from their contributors, then give them sweetheart deals, tax loopholes and bailouts.

PRP’s begins:

Remember that pay-to-play game? Government contracts for campaign cash? Well, no one played it better than Ben Cayetano.

Civil Beat on Thursday explored how the pay-to-play corruption allegations that started in the mayor’s race were leaking into the congressional campaign. Cayetano and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann both find themselves the targets of those accusations even though they’re far from political allies.

Now, it seems the allegations are leaking back into the mayor’s race the form of an almost identical commercial. But there is one key difference between the spots: the voice.

Rick Lance, Voice Actor

Rick Lance is a Nashville area-based voice actor who was hired by Gabbard last month for “Talent services for TV-Radio ads,” according to a recent filing with the Federal Election Commission. She spent $675 with Lance on July 18.

Some of the work featured on Lance’s website has a bit of a country twang, but he’s a professional and can adapt his voice to fit the job he’s hired to do.

Contacted by Civil Beat at his studio Thursday, Lance was able to identify his own voice in Gabbard’s pay-to-play commercial, and said he enjoyed working with her campaign team.

But when the PRP spot was played for him, he said the voice wasn’t his.

“That’s not me,” he said. “The other team, that’s definitely not me.”

Lance said while he’s unfamiliar with Hawaii’s political scene, he’s careful about avoiding conflicts of interest because he works with both Republicans and Democrats.

“‘Tis the season,” he said. “I’m basically a mouthpiece, a hired voice, and I don’t get involved in the campaigns beyond that. It’s not my place.”

PRP-Gabbard Connections

PRP’s expenditure list doesn’t identify a voice actor by name, instead showing that Media Strategies and Research of Virginia received about $800,000 for advertising in the Honolulu mayor’s race. Other recipients included San Francisco-based Tulchin Research, which did polling for PRP, and the Washington, D.C.-based Hamburger Company, which did ad production.

One common link between PRP and Gabbard is Jim McCoy, who serves as a spokesman for both. A local news and public relations veteran now working for Hoakea Communications, McCoy helped Neil Abercrombie become Hawaii’s governor — including a sound beating of Hannemann in the 2010 Democratic primary.

“I have two separate clients, and I do not coordinate between the two campaigns,” he told Civil Beat Thursday. “There’s no coordination or collaboration involved.”

McCoy said he handles media relations efforts for both PRP and the Gabbard campaign and does not produce the paid advertising for either group.

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